March 11, 2016

Matt Koltonow Takes a look at Landscapes of War. Vol.II from Accion Press aka Euro Modelismo

Creating realistic groundwork and scenery is tricky. As someone who usually calls a piece finished when I’ve glued some sand to the base of a figure, I have a deep fascination and respect for great looking groundwork. Because most of the painting I do is individually based 28mm figures, I don’t have a ton of experience with larger areas of groundwork. My main method of basing tends to be a sand or putty, painted with the same basic three tones. I usually stick to one or two techniques. Having said all of that, I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much reference material, especially if it’s good

The Landscapes of War series is a good example of this. This series is focused on World War 2 dioramas but has plenty to offer to hobbyists in general. Despite not being an armor modeler at all, I was instantly hooked on the first volume of this series and was very excited to get my hands on Volume 2. 

Before I talk about Vol.2 too much I want to briefly touch on what I loved about the first installment. There are three major details about vol.1 that made me purchase the book for my reference shelf. 
1 The Eye Candy
All of the work in the book is gorgeous. All of it. Every page has something worth seeing. Whether it’s finished displays shot from multiple angles or something as simple as seeing the raw materials on their way the photo realism, the book is pretty.
2 Reference Photos
It seems like kind of a no brainer now to include some nice reference material but it’s not something I had thought much about before this book. Scattered throughout the book are great photos of the real life equivalents of the tutorials being discussed.  It really shows how nice the modelling work is, being able to compare it to some real scenery.
3 Approachability
The easiest way to trick me into trying something new is to make it look easy enough that I think I can do it. The tutorials are easy to follow along with and use products that are readily available. Nothing bugs me more than when I’m following a guide only to find I can’t get half the products being used. I also like how the processes aren’t necessarily scale specific so I can use some of them in my work as well.

So how is volume 2? In short, great. Starting at the beginning, even the Table of Contents has me excited.
2.- Rommel In Tunisia
46.- Base (Ground) Grass-Stones
56.- The Ardennes
70.- The Ardennes
92.- Hurtgen Forest, Autumn, 1944
114.- Belarus - September 1944
138.- Ivy: Always Present
156.- Ferns
172.- Normandy
200.- Thematic Index

As you can see the book covers a wide variety of subjects, from desert to snow, there’s a little bit of everything. Another thing to note here is the book is longer than the previous installment by almost 90 pages. The book dives right in on page 2 and is a bit of a departure from the books I’ve been reviewing. This book doesn’t have a introduction type section covering the basics. I think I prefer this as it means you can jump into any individual chapter and be able to follow along just fine.This also makes this volume work well as a standalone as well as part of the series. 

Comparing it to what I liked about the first volume, it checks every box. The eye candy is just as impressive with one bit jumping out to me in particular. In the chapter on Tunisia there’s an entirely scratch built palm tree. As someone who struggles with the Woodland Scenics tree kits, I’m having a hard time getting over how cool this is. Even just flipping through the book I’m amazed at how colorful it is. It helps that both the painting on the figures and vehicles is great and that all the photography is very well done.

The reference material in this volume is also very well done. It seems to me the photos for this were very intentionally chosen to compliment the techniques being shown. Much like the first volume these photos are a nice addition. I really like this extra detail and it’s a big part of the reason these books have a spot on my shelf. 

The other major reason I recommend these books is that accessibility thing I talked about earlier. Again, more or less all of the products are readily available and easy enough to get my hands on. The tutorials are all pretty easy to follow as well. The only points I have to take away from this category have to do with the translation. This is pretty par for the course lately though and it’s hard to really knock the whole book for  the few words that didn’t get translated as the book is still pretty easy to understand

I really like this series and hope they continue it. The modelling work in the book is absolutely incredible and it’s laid out in a way that means you can always some sort of inspiration or techniques.The first book was great and this second volume really continues the trend.

From the publisher....
Landscapes of War. Vol.II by Accion Press is the second volume in ‘Maximum’ a series dedicated to the art of diorama. The art of making dioramas comes to life in the different landscapes that became the war scenarios of WWII. On this occasion, we travel to Tunisia, where the German forces were under the grip of the British and the U.S Army in order to recreate the scenery known as Wadi and Palm trees. The reader also will be able to travel to The Ardennes, Hurtgen Forest, Belarus or the well-known Bocage in Normandy where you will learn how to depict a number of natural elements available on these landscapes of war. The latest techniques and the best materials to make a simple base, palm trees, ice, icicles, mushrooms, mosses, lichens, water, ivy, ferns and numerous types of water are explained through detailed color images and step by step procedures. This is a complete source of using products currently on the market in order to achieve the maximum realism in the shortest time. 200 Pages, Sovercover, A-4 format
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Sample pages
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